How to Appeal a Social Security Disability Denial

How to Appeal a Social Security Disability Denial

There are actually four levels of appeal for a person who has been denied Social Security Disability (SSDI) benefits.

Following the instructions included in your notice of denial from the Social Security Administration (SSA), is a necessary starting point. But, the appeals process can be complicated, paperwork-intensive, time consuming, and down-right confusing. And, let’s face it, if you were already denied once, it is highly unlikely that you will be approved on an appeal unless you correct your mistakes, and do something substantially different during the appeal!

For this reason it is always best to consult with an experienced Social Security Disability appeals attorney if you have been denied. Our attorneys have successfully obtained millions of dollars in Social Security Disability benefits for our clients. Our experienced attorneys can identify “where you went wrong” in the application process – and make sure that everything is done properly and in a timely and complete manner in your appeal.

Appeal Process for Social Security Disability Denial:

1. Social Security Disability Request for Reconsideration

If your initial application for Social Security Disability was denied, you have 60 days from the date of the denial letter request a Reconsideration.

In reconsideration, you are allowed to submit additional medical documentation. This is extremely important – as it is likely the original information you submitted was insufficient to get you approved. Contact our Social Security Disability attorneys and we can help you determine what additional information should be submitted to help you with your reconsideration.

The reconsideration process typically takes from two to four months, or longer. Unfortunately, without the help of an attorney, most applicants are denied again.

2. Social Security Disability Administrative Law Judge Hearing

If you are denied at the reconsideration stage, the next step is a hearing before an administrative law judge. You must request the administrative law judge (ALJ) hearing within 60 days from receipt of your reconsideration denial.

Remember that the administrative law judges (“ALJs”) who hear your case are attorneys who work for Social Security. And it can take up to a full year – or longer – to even to get an ALJ hearing date.

During this time period it is important to work with an experienced Social Security Disability to build your case with thorough medical records and additional proof of your disability and inability to work.

3. Social Security Disability Appeals Council

If you lost again at the Administrative Law Judges, you can file a request for review with the Social Security Appeals Council. This is still another division of the Social Security Administration.

It is very rare that the Appeals Council will simply issue a favorable decision granting benefits. Instead, if the Appeals Council finds that any “error” was in the ALJ decision, they return the case back to the ALJ to conduct a new hearing and gather additional evidence.

4. U.S. District Court Social Security Disability Appeal

Next, if your appeal with the Appeals Council is unsuccessful, you are allowed to file a complaint in U.S. District Court. (And in some limited cases an appeal may be able to be filed in United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.)

At this stage of the appeal process you will be in an actual Court – which is much more formal, with many more specific rules, procedures and requirements. At this stage of the appeal it is virtually impossible to get very far at all – let alone win – without representation by an attorney.

Federal judges hear Social Security disability cases without jury. And suing in court is expensive and time consuming. Even if your attorney eventually wins, it might take you years to have your case heard.

Long Beach Social Security Disability Appeal Attorneys

For this reason it is well advised to obtain an attorney as early in your denial process as possible. It is much better to “do it right” in the reconsideration or ALJ phase than to have to incur the long wait time and extra expense of going to Federal court.

Long Beach Social Security Attorneys
Free Consultation:  562-622-4800